A woman had a lucky escape when a fire broke out while she was sleeping in a flat with no smoke alarms.

Two crews from Southend fire station were called to Heygate Avenue, Southend, after a neighbour noticed smoke coming from a nearby flat.

On arrival firefighters were met with no response at the door, so quickly forced entry and found a smokelogged flat.

Firefighters then reported there was a fire in the kitchen and a woman was asleep on the sofa, believed to be drunk.

After rescuing the woman firefighters extinguished the fire and cleared the flat of smoke.

The fire started after the woman began cooking and then fell asleep.

Crew Manager Kevin O’Brian said: “There was no door on the kitchen, meaning the smoke had filled the whole flat and there was potential for the fire to spread quickly.

“By the time we arrived the smoke was already waist height.

“Thankfully, as the homeowner was laying down, the smoke had not reached her yet, but had her neighbour not noticed the smoke and called us when she did, the outcome could have been tragic.

“Incidents like this show how important it is to have working smoke alarms in your home.

“Smoke alarms give you early warning of a fire in your home, so you have time to get out, stay out and call the fire service out.

“Over half of house fires in Essex start in the kitchen.

“The easiest way to stay safe in the kitchen is never to leave cooking unattended, and if you’ve been drinking then don’t cook – get a takeaway or prepare something in advance.”

The kitchen suffered around 30 per cent fire damage and the whole flat has suffered smoke damage in the fire on Sunday just before midnight.

If you don’t have a smoke alarm in your property or would like further advice on fire safety at home, Essex Fire and Rescue’s Home Safety team can arrange for a free visit.

Where necessary, a team member will also fit smoke alarms free of charge.

Call the team today on 0300 303 0088 or visit essex-fire.gov.uk/news/Is_your_home_really_smoke_alarmed/